By Sheridan Wimmer on July 12, 2018
Think about the things you rely on each day. The water in your shower coming on, the lights in your kitchen allowing you to see the coffee maker gurgling, the car starting right up (fingers crossed) and your cell phone having reliable service to check how many likes your recent Instagram post got.
For some Kansans, even uploading a photo to Instagram isn’t feasible. THE HORROR! Many of our friends and neighbors in rural areas of the state go without reliable, dependable cell phone coverage – yes, even in 2018 and even when the cell phone coverage maps say Kansas is virtually covered by at least one cell phone carrier.
Steve McCloud, for example, is a farmer in Harvey County who experiences slow and sporadic access to cell phone reception.
Rather than uploading Instagram photos, McCloud needs high-speed cell phone coverage to help meet the demands of consumers. Just like any business, farmers and ranchers rely on technology to help them perform their jobs better. From selling cattle on an internet auction to using GPS in fields, high-speed cell phone coverage is important for these professionals to have.
“Having better cell phone coverage would mean fewer trips to McDonald’s to use its Wi-Fi and more time making my farm perform efficiently so consumers can have the safe, healthy food they deserve,” McCloud says.
Phoning up efficiencies
Living and working in rural areas of our state shouldn’t mean you go without some of life’s essentials, and we’d argue reliable cell phone coverage is an essential in today’s digital age.
For rural areas, this would create a better connection to emergency services, advances in opportunities for education and entrepreneurship and increased efficiencies for farmers and ranchers to use precision agriculture.
The more efficient our state can be, no matter where you are, the better off we all are.
The call to action
T-Mobile, long one of the more reliable rural-area cell service providers, is merging with Sprint. One of the potential benefits of this merger is a rapid rollout of 5G service across the country—and, because of T-Mobile’s existing network, rural communities will be part of the network, rather than left waiting at the end of the line, according to T-Mobile and Sprint.
While we’re excited and hopeful T-Mobile and Sprint can rollout 5G service to its rural network soon, in the meantime there are still areas in Kansas that need reliable 4G speed.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is providing $4.53 billion in support over 10 years to primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service.
That is why Kansas Farm Bureau requested and received a waiver from the FCC to perform speed tests throughout the state to prove there is a lack of reliable cell phone coverage in several areas.
As you travel throughout this state – whether going on vacation, visiting family or on a business trip – consider participating in speed tests to prove reliable cell phone coverage is not a given in every part of Kansas. After all, you may be driving through some of these areas and need to make a call. Imagine not having reliable service to make an emergency phone call. Help your neighbors, your food providers, your friends and your family get the service they deserve.